Zebras’ head coach, Stanley Tshosane, says he would welcome any opponent during the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) draw scheduled for Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 5.
Botswana is among the 16 nations which were given a bye into the second round of the qualifiers after their appearance at the AFCON finals which were played in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon earlier this year. Those which took part at the last tournament will be joined by 14 nations which have gone through the just ended first round of the qualifiers.
Having made their maiden appearance at the continental showpiece, expectations are high amongst local supporters that the Zebras will book a place in the tournament, which will be held in the next seven months.
The Zebras face a prospect of coming up against the continent’s big guns in the last phase of the qualifiers scheduled for September and October but Tshosane is not worried.
“At this stage, I’m not worried about which country we’re likely to face in the qualifiers. All I’m worried about is our own preparations going into the AFCON qualifier. Like I’ve always said in the past, if we’re prepared enough we can take on any side. We’re currently in negotiations with the associations to see if we can have a few friendly games before the September game (AFCON qualifier),” Tshosane told Sunday Standard.
He believes that if the Zebras take part at the next Nations Cup, it will continue to improve the standard of football in the country.
But Tshosane and his team face serious challenge of playing the qualifier without a tough game as the Botswana Football Association (BFA) are yet to arrange any international friendlies.
“We’ve met with the association and everything is in their hands. It is important for us to play tough games before our next qualifier (to rectify the mistakes from the last game),” pointed out Tshosane.
Meanwhile, BFA chief executive officer, Duncan Kgame, told Sunday Standard that they are working around the clock to secure friendly games before the Zebras go in search of a place at the South African showpiece. Kgame said that their intention is to host a four-nation tournament during the President Day holidays (14-15 July 2012) at UB Stadium in Gaborone.
“We’ve written to several countries like Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Zambia, Angola and Egypt to see if they cannot be part of the proposed four nations’ tournament. The challenge we’re facing now is that most of these countries want us to foot their travel arrangements. As you may be aware, we’re stretched financially but we remain hopeful that companies will come to our rescue,” Kgame said.
He pointed out that Angola has shown interest in playing the Zebras in Gaborone on August 15, which is a FIFA date.